Argentinians might be having a sad start to the week after losing in the World Cup final to Germany, but their grief doesn’t even come close to one inhabitant’s in the city of Mendoza. Arturo, a 29-year-old polar bear at the Mendoza Zoo, has been called the “world’s saddest animal” as he wastes away depressed and overheated in his enclosure.
“You can see he is going crazy. He moves the way polar bears do when they are suffering a lot of stress,” said Fernanda Arentsen, an Argentinian professor who’s written to the government asking them to move Arturo to a cooler place. “He has been filmed rocking back and forth in a way that signals distress. It breaks my heart to see it. There is no way for him to escape the heat. He looks so sad. He looks in pain.”
His behavior makes absolute sense as the Arctic animal is being kept in a zoo where the summer temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). Arturo’s enclosure is out in the sun and his only resource for cooling down is a pool 50 cm (20 inches) deep. He’s been kept at the zoo as an attraction for 20 years and now spends his days pacing back and forth, shaking his head and showing his teeth.
Arturo’s behavior, which experts are calling abnormal and zombie-like, started to change two years ago when his companion, Pelusa, died and he was left alone, without any contact with others of his own species.
In February, a bid to move him to a new International Polar Bear Conservation Centre in Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, Canada was unanimously shot down by the Mendoza Zoo’s administration who claimed he wouldn’t survive the two-day trip. Local conservationists claim the zoo is putting their profits ahead of the bear’s best interest and didn’t do a thorough examination of the bear’s health to reach that conclusion. In fact, they claim Arturo hasn’t had a proper medical examination in years since to transfer the bear, the zoo would have to present his medical history dating back three years, which the zoo claims not to have.
Now, as animal lovers around the globe are championing Arturo’s cause, even pop icon Cher, is pressuring Argentina to release Arturo.
“Don’t cry for him, Argentina? No tears of Mrs Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner for tortured polar bear Arturo,” tweeted the singer and actress calling out Argentina’s president for some action. “Your hands are stained with his blood when he dies.”
You can help Arturo have a better life and hopefully get rid of his tragic title by signing the petition to have him moved to Canada as soon as possible.